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8 things you need to know about Google AMP

James A. Martin | July 7, 2016
The next big thing in SEO is AMP, or Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages. Search pros break down AMP and share insights on what you need to know to stay ahead of the curve.

Last year, the search engine optimization (SEO) community was all abuzz about "Mobilegeddon," or Google's mobile-friendly search engine algorithm.

This year, the mobile SEO buzz is focused on Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), though this time there's less "doomsday" urgency. But what exactly is AMP? Who needs to implement it and why? What are the potential pitfalls? And what role does the IT department play? 

We asked a number of SEO experts for answers.

1. What is Google AMP?

AMP is an open source project designed to help web publishers create mobile-optimized content that loads instantly on all devices, according to Google. "We want webpages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads, and to load instantaneously," Google wrote in a blog post. "We also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant — no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device you're using."

Google's goal with AMP is to deliver the best possible mobile experience to its users. "Google wants to get information to the end user as fast as possible," says Michael Bertin, search marketing expert for digital marketing agency iQuanti. "Google doesn't want the user to have to wait to read or see something." 

Rudy Galfi, Google's AMP product manager, said at a recent marketing conference that the median load time for AMP-coded content is 0.7 seconds, according to SearchEngineLand.com. In comparison, the median load time for non-AMP pages is 22 seconds, or "the time it takes for you to leave the site and never come back," Galfi said.

On February 23, 2016, Google officially integrated AMP-powered web pages into its mobile search results. AMP-coded pages appear in a mobile search results "carousel," and they feature an AMP icon that looks like a thunderbolt, as well as the acronym "AMP."

google amp screen shot

2. How does Google AMP work?

The open AMP HTML framework piggybacks on existing web technologies, but it also lets site owners create "light-weight" web pages, according to Google.

"AMP-HTML is simply HTML5 with a set of specifications (requirements and restrictions)," Google's Galfi told SearchEngineLand.com. "The optimization is powered by JavaScript, styling can be customized via CSS3, and pages are cached."

Caching is core to AMP, Galfi said. From SearchEngineLand.com:

"[Galfi] explained that Google AMP cache functions in a similar manner as a content delivery network (CDN), that it is free for anyone to use and that it works on 'stale-while-revalidate' model. This model helps make sure the content is always up to date in the cache. The process by which it works is quite simple: When a request is made, the client receives the cached version while the document is requested again from its original server to be updated in the cache."

 

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